Am I justified in feeling upset or should I be more ok with "having different opinions"

When my fiance and i disagree on something, I get very upset because I have strong feelings about the topic and I generally disagree with my partner's attitude/opinion about the matter. I can't agree to disagree. Today it was about the difference between simply having a different opinion and being judgemental. I was frustrated because saying "why is she wearing so much makeup" in a judgemental tone is kind of unnecessary, and puts out negative energy. My partner just sees it as having a different opinion. My partner is upset cos he feels like he express his opinions to me. I have a lot of emotional baggage relating to makeup so that may be an influencing factor. This is a milder example. Generally, I am upset because I am afraid that his stance in these situations reflects a character 'flaw' of lacking empathy, and he doesn't seem to see that. Am i wrong to feel upset or do i need to just grow thicker skin and be ok with disagreeing
Asked by Lili

Hi Lili, 


Thank you for reaching out to a BetterHelp therapist to question and explore feeling justified in being upset versus accepting having a differing of opinions with your partner.   This is a great question and one that I hope to approach both sides of the coin with you. 


First, take ownership of your thoughts, feelings and opinions.  They are yours.  Because you are two different individuals with different thought processes and histories, it is likely that the two of you will not agree on everything, and that is healthy.  Where the problem can arise is how the difference in opinions is handled.    For the sake of avoiding conflict, you should not abandon your own thoughts and values and agree, but that will lead to sacrificing your own independent thoughts and values for the sake of "keeping the peace", and you will ultimately suffer. 


Next, understand that having different opinions can be handled positively - if when you disagree.   You share getting very upset "because I have strong feelings."   As  I previously cautioned, you don't want to sacrifice your own thoughts and values to keep the peace, the same is true conversely.  It would not be healthy for your partner to abandon his own thoughts and opinions for fear that you will get upset.  Is there a harm in disagreeing, ie. having a difference of opinion and it not lead to being upset? 


One thing may be helpful, and that is addressing the energy surrounding some of the words that are being used.  There are tools that can be used to work on the language and tone with your partner so that it does not come across as judgemental.   When a tone is harsh or the language used can feel attacked, it can shut down all communications which is not the goal either.  It may be worth a separate conversation to calmly address the instances that feel like character attacks.  Keeping an open line of communication with the reminder in mind that your partner is on your team, not against you, can help to keep this line of communication open. 


Taking these steps to have open communication, without judgment, and mindfulness of tone can help to nurture your relationship and grow healthy conversations that don't have to end with each person standing their ground in their own corner.